HE SHALL RETURN
Word circulating late Tuesday around the Fleet Center was that, hoping to emulate the dramatic entrance President Bill Clinton made to Staples Center in Los Angeles four years ago, Sen. John Kerry was planning a bofo entrance in Boston.
According to a Kerry campaign source, staffers have arranged for Kerry and his so-called “Vietnam Brothers in Arms” to meet up at Logan Airport upon his arrival there, and to then ride across the Boston Harbor to the Charlestown Navy Yard, where supporters will meet him.
“We want him and his buddies on the prow of a boat, just cruising into Boston. It will look awesome,” says a staffer. “After Clinton in L.A., you can’t just have a guy arrive in town, there has to be something else added.”
NOTHING SIMILAR OCCURRED when Sen. John Edwards flew into Boston on Tuesday, though prior to his arrival, Edwards and his handlers did allow still photographers to take pictures of Edwards “working” on his convention speech.
Prior to letting pool photographers into the room, an Edwards staffer pulled the speech out of a folder and spread the pages out on a desk. “Edwards has been looking at it, but it’s basically done. He hasn’t put a pen to it in two or three days,” says a Kerry campaign staffer.
As for Kerry’s speech, uberadviser Bob Shrum is said to be working on a final draft before Kerry makes a final read. “Word is that Kerry is high on the speech, loves it, calls it soaring and inspirational,” says a Kerry adviser in Boston. “But that may just be buzz. Kerry doesn’t do ‘inspiring’ very well.”
NOT FOR LACK OF trying. According to a Kerry advance staffer on the way back from Florida, where Kerry spent part of Monday, the candidate saw a Brevard County Sheriff deputy, who was part of his security motorcade, crash his motorcycle.
The motorcade continued past. But according to the advance staffer, Kerry wanted to turn around. According to the staffer, Kerry asked handlers if there were news cameras around. And insisted that if there were, they had to go back to check on the officer so they didn’t look uncaring.
Kerry’s motorcade did stop and, in front of several cameras, the candidate did check to see if Sgt. Eric Daddow of the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office was okay. But the candidate didn’t hang around to find out if the officer was badly injured. He was, with a broken shoulder and serious scrapes all over his body from hitting the roadway.
In any case, that photo op was lost, due to Kerry’s decision to wear a sky blue “clean room” suit while visiting the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral.
Kerry, according to the advance staffer balked at wearing the suit, but when he saw his fellow senators, Florida Democrats Bill Nelson and Bob Graham, as well as former astronaut Sen. John Glenn of Ohio, getting into them, he couldn’t avoid ending up in the now infamous photos.
THE BIGGEST BUZZ OUT of Boston on Tuesday, though, wasn’t Kerry’s blue suit, but the interview Andrew Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, gave to Washington Post political reporter David Broder.
Stern told Broder that a Kerry loss to Bush in 2004 might not be the worst thing that could happen to the Democratic Party in the long term.
Stern, who backed Howard Dean, and was even an early booster of Wesley Clark, is not considered part of Kerry’s inner circle, though his union is perhaps one of the most influential within the broader AFL-CIO, in part, because it is one of the few unions with a growing membership.
According to an AFL-CIO lobbyist hanging out in the Sheraton Boston Hotel, AFL-CIO boss John Sweeney got an angry call from a “senior” Kerry official who was angry about Stern’s comments. “Sweeney called Stern and read him the riot act, which may not have been the best thing for Sweeney to do,” says the lobbyist. “There is more going on here than just Stern not being particularly in love with Kerry. Stern is doing a lot for Democrats, and doesn’t feel they are doing enough for SEIU. This was just a reminder that they are out there.”
LEADERSHIP BY THEFT
After John Kerry‘s busy Monday in Florida, Kerry flew on a small charter jet to Norfolk, Virginia. (His campaign 757 was experiencing mechanical problems.) In Norfolk Tuesday morning Kerry called on the president to expedite intelligence and security recommendations made by the 9 /11 Commission.
Kerry also called for an extension of the 9/11 Commission for an additional 18 months, to serve as a kind of overseer of the implementation of their recommendations. Kerry was able to make the extension request, according to some in his campaign, due to back channel conversations between 9/11 Commission staffers and the campaign. What’s more, Kerry’s call for the Bush administration to expedite commission recommendations came when Kerry staffers were aware of high level inner agency meetings in the White House and around Washington over the past 4 days to lay out implementation plans for at least a full third of the commission’s recommended changes in American intelligence gathering and evaluation.
“The Bush team isn’t touting how much they’re actually doing, so we might as well try to take credit for it,” says a Kerry adviser in Washington. “Bush will make the changes and Kerry can now take credit by claiming it was his calls that forced Bush’s hand.”